I came home last night to find my wife drunk.
This has been a developing pattern over weeks, starting when she heard that her mother is dying of cancer.
Her father already has advanced Parkinson’s Disease. Her mother was his caregiver.
My wife is now devastated by the realization that her parents are facing an immediate crisis regarding her father’s care, plus the imminent death of her Mom.
They live overseas. We can’t afford to pay for nursing home placement for her father.
She’s stopped all cooking and house care, and has cut back on her part-time work hours.
We both used to enjoy a cocktail before dinner and a glass of wine with our meal. Now she’s drinking whenever she’s home.
I chastised her the other night, but I know that’s not a good approach. I’ve been foregoing alcohol as an example, but she doesn’t take the hint.
I think it’s too early to suggest going to Alcoholics’ Anonymous, because it’s obvious this comes from depression, not an addiction.
What other approach can I take?
Alcohol is itself a depressant. You can’t dismiss concerns about her becoming addicted, since the more she drinks, her depression will increase, and she’ll drink even more to escape what’s really bothering her.
Your wife is grieving.
She doesn’t need funerals to know she’s losing both parents and feels helpless about their crisis.
For now, you need to re-frame her drinking as her attempted escape from grief (then confront alcoholism after she views her situation more clearly).
Show that you understand this is a sad, frightening time for her. She’s entitled to worry, cry, and grieve.
She can do that best with the help of a grief counsellor now, instead of waiting for their actual demise.
She needs professional direction about what she can do – possibly a visit to help them assess the best move for her father, meet with her mother’s doctor to learn what comfort she can provide, feel pro-active that she’s there, instead of waiting in fear and sorrow at home.
After this, you can better assess whether her excess drinking has become habitual. Even if not, joining even one AA or Al-Anon meeting may turn the switch off the effect of this difficult time for her.
My boyfriend has a daughter, 22, living with her boyfriend.
Yet she’ll phone her father and tell him to go out, drive over and bring her over-the-counter pills if she’s home alone for a few hours and has a headache or tummy ache.
Worse, he does it.
This daughter has him twisted around her finger. When he gave me a present for my birthday, she bought a bigger version of the same necklace (with his money, since he pays for everything including her rent and car).
I’m thinking of breaking up with him though he says that he loves me.
You didn’t say whether you love him.
But it’s clear you don’t like his daughter at all, for reasons that are his fault as much as hers.
Sure, she’s important to him, but if he continues to jump whenever she asks, and pay for her every whim, no other person can be “family” to them.
If you can’t discuss this with him, better to just explain your position and take a break.
Then it’s up to him to re-think how to better handle being a caring father while still having a life with a partner.
FEEDBACK Regarding living with a “slob” (April 28):
“I’m a mental health counsellor with a Master’s of Social Work degree.
“The letter-writer wrote that her husband’s in his 60s and devoted to his family.
“It means that he’s a role model as head of the family. He’s utilizing his personal space the way he wants or is comfortable.
“She’s personally very irritated about his “slob” habits and thinks that others are bothered too.
“However, her children are adults and therefore are their own role models now, not Dad.
“She’s also bothered about visitors. Normally, nobody comes without a phone call, so that can be handled ahead of time. Close relatives know her husband, so that’s not an issue either.
“This wife exhibits motherly behaviour when her husband’s behaving like a naughty child.
“Ignoring or compromising about such activities/behaviours will pay more dividends to them in their years together.”
Ellie – I’m with you on the compromise suggestion.
Tip of the day:
Grieving can happen even before an anticipated loss, and may require professional help to get through it.